I’m not sure what it was – the way the lilac flowers swayed in the soft Spring breeze as I looked out of the train window, or the remnants of varying emotions within – still lingering from a range of recent events – or perhaps it was just ‘that time of the month’…

But something made me stop today.  Something made me pause, and without any clear reason, I found myself feeling overcome with a strange sense of sadness (perhaps perpetuated by the piece of music which was on my MP3 player at the time)

We all know that nothing in life ever stays the same way forever and for the most part, we’re grateful for that.  Life could not be classed as life without change or growth… but all of a sudden, today, that acknowledgement of impermanence resonated within me with a sense of fright, as I realised just how fragile any given moment is.

All too often it takes a tragedy to remind us of this.  Through soaking eyes we utter those somewhat cliched words, “…this really puts things into perspective…” and vow to henceforth never let any of life’s daily grind detract us from that which is truly important – our family and friends, and our values.  We reflect upon this for a little while but despite best intents and purposes the sentiment can so quickly be lost – the telephone rings, we remember there’s somewhere we need to be or something we need to be doing, something irritates us, we see something amusing in the distance, or we go to sleep – there are so many minor occurrences that can so easily detract our minds back to things which in the grand scheme of things, really don’t matter.

…At this point, I recall an excerpt written by one of my favourite travel writers, Canadian Ryan Murdock, in his book ‘Vagabond Dreams’, a stunning book describing a both physical and personal journey through Central America which I wish everybody would read:…

“Nicaragua taught me that there’s a poverty of life in the West, a poverty of the spirit that mimics the drudgery and dull wasting away of monetary poverty.  Meaninglessness is our great disease.  Life’s spark is smothered by routine, by the grind.”

Herein lies the problem.  We simply have too many other things to think about in life – duties to perform… plans to be made… financial sustainance to achieve…. and other random, sporadic little things to think about – that we don’t always feel as though we have enough available time in which we can revel in what Murdock refers to as ‘life’s spark’ – those moments when we can focus upon fun, and love – all variants of it.  And central to that is appreciation – the underpinning knowledge that the special moments we share, with the people we care about – may not always be an option to us…

Life goes by so quickly these days.  We each live within a constant state of change where the various elements of a ‘typical day’ can change week upon week.  Our circumstances change, and people will come and go from our lives all the time.  It’s simply not feasible for us to forever live out ‘life’s spark‘ in the same way, yet we so often allow ourselves to be consumed by meaningless things that a year from now we will barely remember.  And perhaps that’s why the word ‘fragility’ was the one which so pertinently came to my mind today.  These days, at the ages we are, dwarfed by what sometimes seems to be an insurmountable pressure to ‘sort our lives out’- it is more important than ever to make the most of any opportunity we have for love, and fun (aka – the stuff which matters most, in the grand scheme of things).

But how does ‘making the most’ of these moments manifest itself?  How do we handle such ‘fragililty’? For something so largely important, it can be done in the smallest of ways…   Listening to every word.  Savouring every minute.  Focusing on the ‘here and now’ and not allowing our minds to wander towards external things that may be bothering us. Tight hugs…

…but above all, giving thanks that we ever had that opportunity in the first place – because it’s all so susceptible to change.

… Upon reflection, perhaps today’s strange surge of sorrow was down to the flowers swaying in the wind – looking at them, overcome by how beautiful they looked growing along the banks, knowing that several weeks ago they were not there, and knowing that in several weeks’ time they will have disappeared again, but being grateful for the pleasant imagery they provided today…


Autumnal Shorts

Making Time for Friends/Making Friends for Time:

This past weekend, I went and met up with some of my friends from University whom I don’t often get to see these days.  There was a group of us and it was like we’d never been apart – we laughed a lot, reminisced a lot, and generally added a new page to the story of our friendship.  It was good!  It’s always quite surreal to remember that for three whole years we were living in each others’ pockets and yet now, all these years later – we are spread far and wide,as we have been for four years now, and seldom able to get together as a group.  We are “just a scattering of lights across the globe”, as one such friend mawkishly predicted after many glasses of wine on the evening of our Graduation ceremony, back in 2008.

In 2012, I am glad to have these people in my lives still, even if all we do is make jokes at one another’s expense.  It seems that these days, it’s very easy for people to completely drift apart from one another.  People change.  Their circumstances and locations change.  Their personalities change.  And that includes ourselves – we are changing too, in all of these exact same ways.  It’s inevitable that, as our personal situations change, the time we have available to meet up with our nearest and dearest will fluctuate.  At University, I was living on the same campus as these people and seeing them every single day.  And night.  Lancaster University campus was the size of a walnut shell.  It was impossible not to see a number of friends to stop and talk to on just one short walk to the shops.  These days – with everybody living in different places and doing different things – we can go days, weeks, even months without contact.  It’s a massive contrast to how it used to be, but if the friendship is strong enough, these tests of time are no problem.  However, there will be other times in which people change so much that friendships slowly dissolve, albeit unintentionally.  People gradually forget people sometimes and that’s sad.  That’s something I try very hard not to do.

I’m not one of those people who is constantly typing away to people on the phone or over Facebook.  I don’t always think it’s necessary – I don’t believe that friendships should require constant contact in order to stay alive, and if they are that high-maintenance, they’re unlikely to exist beyond the inevitable boundaries of time and distance anyway.

That said, it’s nice when you do take that time to reconnect.  To catch-up.  To pretend you’re young again and yet to also age with one another.  To reminisce and keep the memories alive.  But above all, to continue the story – we all know that life is just one long series of chapters, and that each of the chapters have their own distinguishing features, but it’s nice to keep the characters recurring and keep the story cohesive.

Always make some time – no matter how small or how infrequent – for your relationships, and in turn those same relationships will know how to survive through time.

A quick word on Jimmy Savile…

So ‘Sir’ Jimmy is not quite Jim’ll Fix It For You but Jim’ll Stick It in You…?  I can safely add my name to the list of millions who are disgusted by the recent allegations.  Who would have thought that that cheery, comedic looking chappy in the tracksuit, who raised millions for charity, could have turned out to be such a poisonous little turd.  The recent revelations may have been a shock for the likes of you or I, but his dozens of victims will have spent most of their lives with their minds burnt by such horrifically vivid memories.  These women weren’t given the option to enjoy the same kind of innocence that we could – that choice was taken away from them by a gluttonous  monster who was powerful enough to always retain his innocence, albeit the different kind.  Posthumously strip this straggly-haired, self-gratifying old ogre of his knighthood and let’s distance ourselves a bit from this ridiculous modern-day notion that those who enjoy money and fame are always some kind of iconic super-being.  There are far more admirable and respectable people out there.  They just don’t need the limelight to make their point.

Intriguing Nuggets of Other Peoples’ Conversation #2471

I was on a train over the weekend, sat near to two immaculately-dressed ladies in fur scarves who looked and spoke like the sort of people you might expect to own a rural manor-house and make home-made jams and preserves for a living.  Both seemed to be in their ’60s, and their seemingly ostentatious conversation echoed around their seats.

“I didn’t much like Meeelanie laaaast niiight,”  one of them began to divulge to the other in posh, plum-voiced tones, “her outfit was AAAppalling”.  Fur Scarf #2 agreed, “Iiii wasn’t too fond of her either…or that other one…”

“What a pair of bitchy old beings!”  I thought to myself, assuming that they were probably referring to a blissfully-unaware acquaintance from Quifflingborough Croquet Club or whatever social circles they mix in.

Fur Scarf #1 continued…
“N’yes, all in all, not what I’d consider true X-Factor materialll”

I alighted the train moments later somewhat amused but albeit with my tail between my legs.  The dialogue had served as a timely reminder of the scope for error when casting judgment too quickly.   Ho hum.

Finally, some arty shizz:  I made a new video recently using some pictures I took in an old abandoned building we accidentally stumbled across during a bikeride.  Those of a nervous disposition probably shouldn’t watch.  Video can be viewed here .  Or if you prefer – you can click on the link that’s somewhere over there —>
New cartoons on the way soon too.

Song of the Day:  Dent May – Wedding Day

Mississippi musician who writes pleasant little dream-pop ditties such as this one.  A good one to chill towards the end of a long, busy and dark Autumn day.  I’ve had this one on loop for the past couple of days.